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Mixed Methods

image29.gifThis resource has drawn together a selection of materials on mixed methods that could be helpful to educational researchers at different stages of their careers. The resource was produced as part of the ESRC Teaching and Learning Research Programme (TLRP)'s commitment to research capacity building. TLRP itself has now developed a more comprehensive suite of resources on research approaches designed to help develop researcher expertise. However, it was felt that the different way this set of resources was put together may still be of interest to those who want an insight into educational research methods rather than a more comprehensive set of resources. The intention is to illustrate a range of mixed methods in use in educational research.

A paper by Jennifer Mason (2006), in The Real Life Methods Working Papers series, outlines different approaches to using mixed methods in six strategies for mixing methods and linking data, while a discussion paper on mixed methods research paper by Julia Brannen (2005) offers definitions of and reasons for popularity of mixed methods research, as well as outlining how a mixed method strategy plays out in different phases of the research process.

Alan Bryman (2006) performs a content analysis on 232 social science articles to see how mixed methods were used in practice. On the quantitative side structured interview and questionnaire research within a cross-sectional design tended to predominate, while on the qualitative side the semi-structured interview within a cross-sectional design tended to predominate. The rationales for employing a mixed-methods research approach and how they were used in practice indicates did not always align, and the implications of this finding for thinking about mixed-methods research were considered. Bryman (2004) has also produced a Methods Briefing on Integrating Quantitative and Qualitative Research: Prospects and Limits.

Forum: Qualitative Social Research has published a special issue (Forum Volume 2, No. 1 – February 2001) on Qualitative and Quantitative Research: Conjunctions and Divergences.

References and further reading:
  • Bryman, A. (2006) ‘Integrating Quantitative and Qualitative Research: how is it done?’ Qualitative Research, Vol. 6, No. 1: 97-114
  • Mason, J. (2006) ‘Mixing Methods in a Qualitatively-Driven Way’, Qualitative Research, Vol. 6, No. 1: 9-26
  • Moran-Ellis, J., Alexander, V. D., Cronin, A., Dickinson, M., Fielding, J., Sleney, J. and Thomas, H., (2006) ‘Triangulation and Integration: processes, claims and
    implications’ Qualitative Research, Vol. 6, No. 1: 45-60.
  • International Journal of Social Research Methodology (2005) Vol. 8, No. 3. Special edition on mixed methods research.
TLRP showcase:

Chris Taylor argues in his contribution drawn from Resources from RCBN and Journal: research designs that all research has an overarching logic such that the combined use of quantitative and qualitative research methods is not only possible but also very fruitful. In the same contribution he references a brief paper he jointly produced with Stephen Gorard on 'What is 'triangulation'?' in Issue 7 of the Journal Building Research Capacity (February 2004).

Phil Hodkinson and Flora Macleod (2007) illustrate how quantitative and qualitative research methods can be used in a complementary fashion in Contrasting Concepts of Learning and Contrasting Research Methodologies: some strengths and weaknesses of life history research, a paper given at an ESREA (European Society for Research on Education of Adults) Network Conference on Life History and Biography March 1st-4th 2007 Roskilde University, Denmark.